One beauty of getting older: we have a lot more "real world" experience than our younger family and friends. That's especially handy when it comes to money. Most of us have made expensive mistakes ... which is, ahem, valuable learning.
Several months ago we asked clients and friends for their money advice to the next generation. We separately asked teens and 20-somethings for their personal finance questions.
Then we published a booklet with the 100+ responses. The key findings are below.
The next generation has a wide range of concerns. They largely fall into a few categories: how much to save, how to invest wisely, how to budget, how to navigate tax and how to do all this in alignment with their values.
The "veterans" among us offered a lot of great advice:
- Save, save and save ... and did we mention save? Comments ranged from "pay yourself first", to automating savings, to the classic, "it's not what you make, it's what you save". Another of my favorites: "My dad told me that, when it comes time to be put out to pasture, it's a good thing to own the pasture."
- Invest wisely. People counseled patience, diversification, keeping your costs down and not trying to "time the market". Multiple comments focused on maxing out your 401(k), because it combines tax benefits with dollar cost averaging and automating saving.
- Be serious about a budget. A number of comments emphasized the importance of paying off your credit card every month. Others reminded us that every dollar spent is a trade-off vs what you could have had by saving for future needs. A succinct comment: "It is very difficult to manage income but easy to manage expenses."
- Plenty of us have the "woulda shoulda's". Here are several that stood out: "I wish I had known I might actually live long enough to need savings." "I wish I knew not to chase the next big thing when it comes to investing." "How much less stressful it would have been to live within my means."
The book - which we published through Amazon, is available here. It's worth a read; there is real, hard-earned wisdom.